Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Jim Irsay wants the draft in Indianapolis

The best of this week's Chris Simms Unbuttoned revolved around the 2019 NFL Draft, including the lead-up and fallout from a dramatic first round.

Five years ago, the league decided to take the ultimate reality show’s ultimate reality show on the road. Now, almost every destination wants it.

Indy’s got to get the draft,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said Saturday, via the Indianapolis Star. “We’ve got to get the draft, but to have that, we’ve got to have the hotels.”

That last part is confusing. Indy has the hotels to host a Super Bowl; it did so successfully in early 2012. The broader challenge is that pretty much every other city wants the draft, too. And with each draft that draws massive crowds that don’t (unlike certain other massive crowds) need to be embellished, more and more cities will want the draft.

Along the way, more and more cities will make more and more offers aimed at making the draft more and more of a financial gold mine. That’s the part of the process that rarely gets much play -- the public resources devoted to attracting an event, with the expenditure justified by the thousands who will be staying in those hotels and eating at the restaurants and otherwise spending money at a three-day, open-air draft party.

Even if Indy already has enough hotels, Irsay apparently has a habit of seizing on these moments to lobby for more hotels.

“In talking to everyone in town, I can’t discourage the great work they do in making sure they book a ton of events and eat up a lot of our hotel space, but I think any time we have a new hotel go up downtown, it’s a win for the city, and for the state, and for the Colts, and Pacers and everyone else,” Irsay said.

Eventually, the number of hotels and restaurants will hit a point of saturation, at which there simply won’t be enough events to generate the money needed to keep these places open. Besides, has there ever been an issue about Indianapolis not having the hotel space to accommodate its various big events?

For the draft, which managed to thrive in Nashville without calls for more hotels, the bigger challenge isn’t coming up with the cash to build hotels. It’s coming up with the cash to get the NFL’s attention, because the draft quickly has become nearly as desirable as the Super Bowl.

It’s impressive that the NFL has figured this out, even if it’s odd that it took the NFL so long to realize it.